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Veterinarian

In American and Canadian English, a veterinarian (from Latin veterinae, "draught animals") is an animal doctor, a practitioner of veterinary medicine. The equivalent term in British English is veterinary surgeon, and both terms are often shortened to vet. The word veterinarian was first used in English by the doctor Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682).

Perhaps the most popular depiction of this kind of doctor at work is in the autobiographical books by James Herriot and the television adaptation, All Creatures Great and Small.

Overview of the Veterinary Profession

A veterinarian is not only an animal doctor, however. While a veterinarian does hold a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine (in the USA, at least), not all veterinarians enter clinical practice. Those that do still have a wide range of options: companion animal or "pet" medicine (dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, etc), "exotic" animal medicine (various rodents, sugar gliders, possums, hedgehogs, reptiles), reptile medicine, ratite medicine, livestock medicine, equine medicine (sports or race track or show or rodeo, etc.), or laboratory animal medicine, to name a few. Those who do not may enter a research field, studying an area of medical, veterinary medical, or pharmacological research. Research veterinarians were the first to isolate oncoviruses, Salmonella species, Brucella species, and various other pathogenic agents. They also helped conquer malaria and yellow fever, solved the mystery of botulism, produced an anticoagulant used to treat some people with heart disease, and defined and developed surgical techniques for humans, such as hip-joint replacement and limb and organ transplants.

Like all physicians, veterinarians must make ethical judgments, such as whether or not to perform debarking procedures.

Regulatory Medicine

Some veterinarians work in a field called regulatory medicine - ensuring the nation's food safety by working with the USDA FSIS, or protecting us from imported exotic animal diseases by working for the USDA APHIS. The emerging field of conservation medicine involves veterinarians even more directly with human health care, providing a multidisciplinary approach to medical research that also involves environmental scientists.

Education

More than 3800 veterinarians in the USA currently work at veterinary schools, teaching student vets what they need to know to graduate - so teaching is another career path.

Government

Public health medicine is another option for veterinarians. Veterinarians in government and private laboratories provide diagnostic and testing services. Some veterinarians serve as state epidemiologists, directors of environmental health, and directors of state or city public health departments. Veterinarians are also employed by the US Agriculture Research Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Library of Medicine, and National Institutes of Health. The military also employs veterinarians in a number of capacities - caring for pets on military bases, caring for military working animals, and controlling various arthropod-borne diseases or other such of things.

Professional Organizations

  • American Veterinary Medical Association

Veterinary Informatics

Veterinary Informatics is the application of information technology to healthcare.

Most vet clinics now utilize software for Practice Management Systems to control scheduling and billing of clients, tracking of inventory and automation of lab results.

Addiitonally, many clinics are working towards becoming computerized for electronic patient records.

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